Posted by: Jim | February 4, 2009

Evolution v. Creation

The editorial staff, the publishers, and the writers here at “The Meat of the Matter” (i.e. me), are all keenly interested in all things scientific. And so, I bring this interesting tidbit to you (a’ la “Pharyngula”).

One argument posed by creationists is that Evolution does not provide “transitional fossil evidence.” For example, “Where is fossil evidence of the critter that is halfway between a land mammal and a ocean-going mammal? Hmmm Mr. Smarty-pants evolutionist?” The fact is, evolutionists, with help from their archeologist friends, find these transitional fossils all the time. I’m not a scientist, but from what I understand the creation of fossil evidence is a rare exception in the demise of a critter. It has to die under very particular circumstances, and its carcass must fall at the right place at the right time to be fossilized. Then, archeologists must uncover said evidence. Additionally, there are some evolutionists who believe that dramatic changes in a given environment might speed up adaptive responses in many cases, which decreases the chances of some transitional species of leaving a trace of itself for us to find. But in spite of these difficult odds, transitional fossils are found all the time.

Creationists also claim that a whale has something called “Irreducible complexity,” which is a very smart-sounding creationist term that gives satisfaction to creationists, because it arms them with a smart-sounding rebuttal to throw into an argument with an evolutionist … so they sound smart.  “Irreducible complexity” is an argument made by people with a lack of understanding of evolution, and more likely a bias against it. Whale complexity has been noted as “irreducible” because of how whales give birth tail-first, which allows the baby whale to live through a water birth. Creationist: “How can a cow evolve into a whale? It can’t grow fins and jump into the water because its babies would die during head-first birth.” Thus, irreducible complexity.

maiacetusEnter stage left: this week’s discovery of Maiacetus. It’s basically a whale with legs, aka a creature that is between a land mammal and a whale. Woot! I guess we can close the books on that one. But wait, there’s more! This particular fossil is pregnant. (The fetus bones were removed from the illustration for clarity, but read the link.) The fetus was found in a position to be born head-first, which means this creature went back onto land to give birth. So now we have a swimming mammal that gave birth head-first. This irreducible complexity has just been reduced.

But what will Creationist’s inevitable response to this be? “Oh yeah? Well show me the creature that’s between a whale and a Maiacetus!!”

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Responses

  1. I’ll never understand the need to be ‘right’ about this particular issue. There are varying theories, and they dot the horizon of possibilities, but they are still theories. I prefer to merge the two: A higher power creating the process by which everything evolved. I’m all for scientific evaluation and interpretation, but you can’t even get all the scientists on the same side about something less complex than evolution, like Global Warming.

    Just like you can’t get all theologians on the same side about which deity to worship, if any.

    The two are more similar than you think 😎

  2. …and yes, using the new emoticon because it is cool 😀

  3. Hi. I was wondering where did you get the image of the 4 skeletal whales. I would like to use the image in an upcoming lecture and would like to get permission from the person who created the image. Thanks for your help.

    Aaron Reedy


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